‘A Friend of the Family’: Jan Broberg Was ‘Blindsided’ by Viewers’ Criticism of Her Parents and ‘More Prepared’ With the Peacock Series

Peacock recently dropped episodes of a true crime series about Jan Broberg’s kidnapping in the 1970s called A Friend of the Family. It is another telling of the story since Abducted in Plain Sight came out years ago. People have debated aspects of the events, such as Gail Berchtold’s possible awareness.

With the first show, while some criticized the abuser’s wife, others directed their complaints at Jan’s parents. The backlash surprised Jan since she did not feel everyone knew the whole story. Now, she is more prepared for the audience’s response.

What happened to Jan Broberg?

Jan Broberg is the eldest child of her family, and she lived in Pocatello, Idaho, when she met Robert Berchtold. Everyone in her family was a member of the Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints, with which Berchtold was in high standing. As a result, he charmed his way into the family’s good graces.

When Berchtold got close to the Brobergs, he focused his attention on Jan. He would kidnap her twice at the ages of 12 and 14, and he forced her to marry him illegally. After several weeks in Mexico, Jan would finally return to her family.

Upon her return, Mary Ann and Bob Broberg dropped the charges when Berchtold revealed their adultery to the church. Nevertheless, the public would hear Jan’s story after the documentary Abducted in Plain Sight. Viewers felt shocked at how easily someone could take a child on two separate occasions.

Some of the criticism was toward the parents for seemingly allowing the events to happen. After all, the two remained close to the man after the first kidnapping. Many people believed the parents should have done more to protect Jan.

Criticism toward Broberg’s parents ‘blindsided’ her

Jan became aware of people’s displeasure with her parents’ actions following the documentary’s release. Unlike what some would expect, she was shocked by all the criticism. In an interview with Variety, she explained that she readied herself for the response to the newest Peacock series.

“I’m definitely more prepared this time, because I was completely blindsided at that point,” Jan stated. “We know if people start talking about things that actually matter like this, it will make a difference. So whether they are talking smack about my parents, they’re talking.”

Nevertheless, Jan admits that her parents were a bit naive. Still, she does not appear to blame them and thanks them for helping her survive the ordeal. She hopes to provide more context by retelling her story for A Friend of the Family. Furthermore, even a star of the show sided with her.

McKenna Grace portrays a young Jan in the show and has learned much from her role. She hopes the series will give viewers a new perspective on the family and their situation. After all, people like Robert Berchtold tend to manipulate everyone.

What has happened to Jan Broberg since then?

Producer Jan Broberg of 'A Friend of the Family' at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Robin Williams Center
Producer Jan Broberg of ‘A Friend of the Family’ | Rob Kim/PEACOCK via Getty Images

Jan Broberg Wasn’t the First Girl that Robert ‘B’ Berchtold Targeted — Or the Last

A Friend of the Family deep dives into the Brobergs’ lives and Robert Berchtold’s mind. While people learn about the nuances of grooming, they may wonder what the family did afterward. Sisters Karen and Susan Broberg have grown up to work in education and law, respectively. What has Jan been up to as an adult?

According to Collective Speakers, Jan graduated from university after studying theater. She became a successful actor with a long list of acting credits. She also recently served as the Executive Director of the Center for the Arts at Kayenta. Additionally, Jan has been involved with advocacy work.

Jan committed herself to helping survivors of abuse with their healing process. She created The Jan Broberg Foundation in 2022. One of the organization’s goals is prevention through education, helping people learn about the subtle ways groomers operate.